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The Hustler

4.4 8
Director: Robert Rossen

Cast: Paul Newman, Jackie Gleason, Piper Laurie


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As The Hustler's "Fast" Eddie Felson, Paul Newman created a classic antihero, charismatic but fundamentally flawed, and nobody's role model. A pool player from Oakland, CA, as good as anyone who ever picked up a cue, Eddie has an Achilles' heel: arrogance. It's not enough for him to win: he must force his opponent to acknowledge his superiority. The movie


As The Hustler's "Fast" Eddie Felson, Paul Newman created a classic antihero, charismatic but fundamentally flawed, and nobody's role model. A pool player from Oakland, CA, as good as anyone who ever picked up a cue, Eddie has an Achilles' heel: arrogance. It's not enough for him to win: he must force his opponent to acknowledge his superiority. The movie follows Eddie from his match against billiards champ Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason) as he falls in love with Sarah (Piper Laurie), an alcoholic would-be writer and sometime prostitute, and falls under the spell of Bert Gordon (George C. Scott), a successful gambler who offers to take Eddie under his wing and teach him how to play in the big time. However, when Sarah joins Eddie and Bert on a trip to Louisville for a high-stakes match with a dandy named Findlay (Murray Hamilton), the consequences prove tragic. Along with a classic performance by Newman, The Hustler also features turns by Scott, Laurie, and Gleason, in a rare dramatic role. Cameos from pool champ Willie Mosconi and boxer Jake LaMotta add to the atmosphere of Harry Horner's grubby production design and Eugen Schüfftan's camerawork. Director Robert Rossen, who had been working in films since 1937, was to direct only one more film, Lilith (1964), before his death in 1966. In 1986, Newman returned to the role of "Fast" Eddie in Martin Scorsese's The Color of Money, for which he finally earned an Academy Award as Best Actor.

Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
Paul Newman unnerved moviegoers with his multilayered portrayal of a thoroughgoing heel in this superb 1961 adaptation of Walter Tevis’s gritty novel about an amoral pool hustler. Undeniably sordid but grimly compelling, The Hustler chronicles the rise and fall of its seamy protagonist, "Fast Eddie" Felson, a cocky but talented small-timer determined to make a name for himself by besting Chicago’s cue-ball king, the legendary Minnesota Fats (Jackie Gleason, in what is arguably his finest screen characterization). Newman is absolutely riveting throughout, but no less so than Piper Laurie -- a dewy-eyed ingénue only a few years previous, she delivers the performance of her career as a hard-drinking floozie. George C. Scott lends memorable support as the big-time gambler who takes Fast Eddie under his wing, only to betray him at a crucial juncture. Director Richard Rossen (All the King’s Men) captured the seedy milieu down to the tiniest detail, and Eugene Shuftan won a well-deserved Oscar for his smoky, mood-enhancing, black-and-white cinematography. Resolutely resisting the temptations to sugarcoat its subject and contrive a typical Hollywood happy ending, The Hustler heaps misfortune and tragedy on Fast Eddie, who ultimately finds the grace to accept defeat and stumble toward redemption. (Director Martin Scorsese later got Newman to reprise the role, with Oscar-winning results, for his 1986 hit The Color of Money). The DVD Special Edition of this deeply affecting classic includes an audio commentary by Newman and various crew members and film historians, among other features.
All Movie Guide - Dan Jardine
The Hustler combines elements of film noir, Westerns, sports films, and a heavy dose of existentialism. Some have suggested that the film has a Biblical aspect: the ever-darkened pool halls are each man's Hell, with the parasitic Bert Gordon (George C. Scott) as the Satanic figure who lures Eddie with his own brand of apple. Others point to the film as a parable for the conflict between art and commerce, utilitarianism and metaphysics. Regardless of interpretation, The Hustler is a crackling good morality tale, with a series of top-notch performances, appropriately moody black-and-white cinematography, and a master and prodigy conflict as old as the ages. Paul Newman's performance is a raw-nerved, twitchy wonder, while Jackie Gleason, Scott, and Piper Laurie provide supporting performances of rare depth. Director Robert Rossen allows the complex relationships of the film's key figures plenty of time to evolve, while his careful work establishes a tangibly musty and seedy sense of the film's pool hall setting. Fast Eddie's ultimate redemption, which comes at a terrible price, gives the film a melancholy and bittersweet conclusion that is wholly fitting.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
20th Century Fox
[Wide Screen]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound, Dolby AC-3 Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Audio Commentary by Paul Newman, Film Historian Jeff Young, Film Critic Richard Schickel ; ; Paul Newman at Fox; Jackie Gleason: The Big Man; The Real Hustler: Walter Tevis; Life in the Fast Lane: Fast Eddie Felson and the Search for Greatness; ; Milestones in Cinema History: The Hustler; ; Swimming with Sharks: The Art of the Hustle; ; The Hustler: The Inside Story; Paul Newman: Hollywood's Cool Hand as Seen on Biography on the A&E Network; ; Trick Shot Analysis by Mike Massey; ; How to Make the Shot Featuring Five Scenes; Theatrical Trailer

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Paul Newman "Fast" Eddie Felson
Jackie Gleason Minnesota Fats
Piper Laurie Sarah Packard
George C. Scott Bert Gordon
Myron McCormick Charlie Bums
Murray Hamilton Findlay
Michael Constantine Big John
Stefan Gierasch Preacher
Jake LaMotta Bartender
Gordon B. Clarke Cashier-Bennington's
Alexander Rose Scorekeeper
Carolyn Coates Waitress
Carl York Young Hustler
Tom Aheame Actor
Charles Dierkop Actor
Vincent Gardenia Bartender
Clifford A. Pellow Turk
William Adams Old Doctor
Charles Andre Waiter
Don de Leo Another Player
Don Koll Ticket Clerk
Charles McDaniel Reservation Clerk
Willie Mosconi Willie
Sid Raymond First Man
Art Smith Old Man Attendant

Technical Credits
Robert Rossen Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Dede Allen Editor
Albert Brenner Art Director
Gene Callahan Set Decoration/Design
Sidney Carroll Screenwriter
Kenyon Hopkins Score Composer
Harry Horner Production Designer
Robert Jiras Makeup
Ruth Morley Costumes/Costume Designer
Willie Mosconi Consultant/advisor
Eugen Schüfftan Cinematographer
Richard Vorisek Sound/Sound Designer


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The Hustler 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
mike-s More than 1 year ago
What Rossen does with a decent screenplay in fantastic. Maybe it had something to do with the performances of Newman, Scott, Gleason and most of all Piper Laurie, The cinematography brings out the best and the worst of what used to be life on the wild side, playing pool. The theme of arrogance runs throughout the film. Both Newman and Scott are just plain outstanding in their portrayal of two individuals that know exactly where their going and do not care who they have step on to get there. Made in the 60's this film is a classic and has been for some time. A must see and own for any collector.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Thanks for all the great movies you gave us and for all your fine charity work!
Guest More than 1 year ago
The hallmark of Robert Rossen's "The Hustler" is its performances. After repeated viewings, you can still find new facets in Paul Newman's portrait of a loser, Piper Laurie's pathetic alcoholic, Jackie Gleason's Minnesota Fats, George C. Scott's definition of the soul of evil. Repeated viewings of the movie serve to underline the slickness of the story's resolution which seems more and more to indicate that there's nothing like the loss of a loved one to improve your pool game. Good guys are winners. Bad guys are losers. It used to be as simple as that. But in the Sixties, a new breed called "anti-heroes" had taken over in movies. Who's an anti-hero? Sometimes he's really a good guy who can't help losing. Sometimes he's a rebel who tries to take on the Establishment--and goes down trying. Sometimes he's more a villain than a hero--but a villain who isn't all bad. Though originally written for "Playhouse 90" back in the late Fifties, "The Hustler" (1961) functioned as a morality play for the early Sixties. Pool shark Eddie Felson (Newman) is the first full-blown non-hero, and a character quite different from the anti-heroes of the previous decade. In the Fifties, such characters were best symbolized by Montgomery Clift in "From Here to Eternity", Marlon Brando in "The Wild One", and James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause"--troubled, sincere men who suffer much anguish at the hands of an unfair system, but fight to remain true to their own moralities in spite of the world's general amorality. In the Sixties, Newman eclipsed these three superstars: his Fast Eddie is amoral, anguished, and alienated from the world. He is not true to a code of his own--and therefore superior to the mainstream--but only unable to reach out to others. In their films, Brando, Dean and Clift all longed for a sincere woman with whom they could share a separate piece in "The Hustler", Newman is unable to accept such commitment and communication with his girl Sarah (Piper Laurie). The anti-hero of the Fifties experiences victory in defeat, cleaning up a lousy system while sacrificing himself in the process the Sixties non-hero undergoes defeat in victory, winning what he wanted and finding it without value. Newman's demeanor--his intense nervous energy and cool, casual cynicism--found its perfect embodiment in this role, making him a pop-culture idol for a new generation, the star of a new kind of cinema. Director Robert Rossen's sparse, effective screenplay (written in collaboration with Sidney Carroll) and his stark, shadowy scenes set the proper pace for this downbeat tale. But it was Newman's electrifying performance that made "The Hustler" such a smashing experience for viewers. [filmfactsman]
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is not only a masterpiece of cinematography, but a performance piece featuring some of the finest acting work of our time. This film is a classic in every sense of the word and did I mention that the billard scenes are pretty good too?
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Hustle was a good movie from start to finish. The movie score and period piece depicting "the urban side of a hustlers' life in" New York City in the early sixties actually made me long for those good old days.The movie cast was sincere and had marvelous chemistry. The only down-side was the commentary. Newman had way too little to say about the movie , the actors in it, or even about himself.The commentary turned out to be more a biography about the director, with Rossen's daugther doing all the talking. Critic Richard Schickle interviews were bad and uninteresting. Some of the guests' had very little to add that would give this commentary any meaning. Why wasn't Piper Laurie invited to be a commentator for this fine movie? Movie: B+ Commentary: C-
OtisBelcher More than 1 year ago
What a movie. Paul Newman at his peak and great performances by Jackie Gleason, George C. Scott and Piper Laurie. Every aspect is well done including the decision to do the picture in black and white. Myron McCormick is fantastic as Newman's mentor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago